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Lesser more than enough to thwart Republic

Tri-City Herald

PASCO – It started back in August. Mike Olson said he and his players saw some good things and set some pretty lofty goals for this season. Admittedly, Olson says it’s been a long ride, but one that is not yet complete.

Olson and his Liberty Christian Patriots continued their journey, or mission in this case, with a 46-20 semifinal win over the Republic Tigers on Saturday night at Edgar Brown Stadium.

The journey will conclude next weekend at the Tacoma Dome in the State 1B championship game against Neah Bay. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.

“We made the determination before the season started that we had the goal to win state,” Olson said.

The Patriots (12-0) will be playing in their second title game in the past three seasons, winning the championship in 2012. Neah Bay (13-0), the defending state champions, beat Lummi 26-20 in the other semifinal game.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge,” said Patriots receiver Cody Daniels.

If somehow the Patriots can recreate their performance against Republic next weekend against Neah Bay, the Patriots should like their chances of another state title.

For the normally high-scoring Tigers, points came at a premium. Angelo Rivera’s 92-yard kickoff return in the third quarter finally got Republic on the score board, but the Tigers just couldn’t keep pace.

The 20 points is the fewest Republic has scored all season. The Tigers came into the contest averaging over 66 points per game.

Led by quarterback John Lesser, the Patriots jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Lesser ran for three TDs and threw for three more, accounting for six of the Patriots’ seven TDs.

The other Liberty Christian score came on a 30-yard run by Daniels.

For Republic, Alex Rivera ran for 89 yards on 19 carries.

“That was the toughest team we have played,” Daniels said.

The Patriots jumped out to a 28-0 lead before Republic scored.

“We just had to keep playing,” Olson said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in 8-man football; it could come down to one stop.”

The Patriots answered a few minutes later on a 54-yard run by Lesser to make it 34-6 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.

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